Course Update: September 16
The weather this year has been extremely good for all golf courses, even if we had to suffer more rain for longer in the early summer months. The fairways remained green well into August and only showed signs of wear and tear in the last few weeks before the weather broke last weekend. However, we are already starting to collect leaves and the irrigation contractor will be with us shortly to switch off the system until next March. Thank you all for the kind words about the condition of the greens this summer. As I?ve mentioned elsewhere, they have more than repaid the effort and extra money spent on preparing them.
As those playing the course recently will have noticed, we have finished tidying up the large tree on the 3rd which was condemned earlier this summer. We believe that the bit that is left standing is in good health and that we will see fresh growth next year. It is totally safe and still presents a hazard, albeit a much reduced one.
We have not been able to address the lopping of the oak tree by the stream on the 2nd or the willow tree on the 11th. However, they remain at the top of the to-do list and will be attended to as soon as possible.
The bunkers have suffered most from the weather this year with the early constant rain compacting the sand and thwarting our best efforts to present them in ideal condition. Contrary to many opinions, they are being raked more regularly than previously, but we do not have the staff or time to do this on a daily basis, and so rely heavily on golfers to tidy up after themselves. Those who blame visitors for the footmarks are misguided, and those who tell me "it wasn?t worth fixing my marks when there are so many others? are not helping either. It is hugely frustrating to walk up to a bunker and find your ball in a footmark, and we will continue to do what we can to keep them in good condition. Please help us do so.
This year?s supply of sand has been distributed to where it was needed most and we will be ordering more in the early new year. There are still a couple of bunkers where, when the sand arrives, we may need to sieve out the little stones that are coming through from the base, before topping them up.
As you will have seen, we have a particular issue with wasps in the bunkers on the 4th hole. We have had a pest controller out to attend to them already but they seem to have returned. Please treat this as GUR if insects are still buzzing around.
We have cleared out the area between the 8th and 9th fairways which had become extremely overgrown and unkempt. In the course of this clearance, not only did I discover the usual golf ball graveyard but also a little plaque which was placed there in 1980, which announced that I was in the Colonel?s Copse. I?m hoping that the extra light entering that area will encourage grass to replace the ivy and brambles, and that fewer golf balls will disappear in there without trace.
The number of golf balls found there was nothing compared to the hundred or so lying in the area to the left of the 7th fairway in front of the first hump. This hump is an original JH Taylor feature and gives that part of the hole an attractive symmetry as well as presenting another hazard to wayward drives. A good deal of work still needs to be done in that area but, again, less time ought to be lost looking for balls that end up there.
Over the last two or three years, we have spent a lot of time improving the area in and around the car park, towards the first tee, and on the tee itself. We are very conscious that we need to make a positive first impression on visitors and potential new members and these areas are key to achieving that. Over the next few months, we plan to enhance these areas further. Firstly, as many of you may be aware, there will be a new shoe cleaning machine which will be sited outside the cellar (the cement base is already in place) and, if possible, we will then move the extractor fan around the corner and paint the wall behind the new machine.
We also plan to make the 10th tee much bigger, extending the level surface forwards by around ten yards. This tee has always been too small and the limited teeing area gets very worn and muddy. We feel an extended tee will not only look better but will give us the opportunity to move the tees back and forward, thus allowing the grass to recover. This should not cost a great deal as topsoil is the main expense and will only be used to the essential depth at the end of the construction work. If anyone needs to get rid of rubble or just lots of soil, just let me know, as we can use it for the base.
Two years ago, we planned to put new fencing completely around the car park but the lottery funds available needed to be split between that task and improvements to the clubhouse, and that left some of the fencing undone. We are planning to complete that job at some point over the next few months, removing the remaining dead and dying conifers and replacing them with exactly the same fencing as installed already. Not only will this dramatically improve the appearance of the entrance to the car park, allowing clear sight of the course as visitors arrive, but it will also afford much better protection for the cars too. There is a rather attractive ash tree hiding amongst the conifers and, once the fence is erected, we will look at whether we need to plant a few more small trees on the course side to further improve that area.
Notwithstanding the plans outlined above, we still have the levelling of the 7th tee on our schedule for the winter months. And, if possible, we will renew the path behind the 4th tee and 3rd green. All the new paths appear to have been appreciated and we have most of the material on site to tidy up this area, together with a better looking trolley park beside the 4th tee.
New 18th tee
Thank you everyone who has responded to this proposal. I will write a separate note in a few weeks to let you all know what people had to say and what we might do as a result. Most responses have been thoughtful and considered and I?m grateful for everyone?s view on this potential change.
It has, however, been disappointing, if mildly amusing, to witness the wild rumour mongering which has emerged as a result of a request for feedback. Only this morning I was asked if it was really going to cost £7,000, which suggests that at least one self appointed expert is spreading needless alarm. If it was going to cost anything like the figure quoted it wouldn?t even have reached the proposal stage, and I?m surprised that anyone would think I would spend our limited funds so profligately. It would have been much easier for our in house expert just to ask me about the likely cost rather than give the benefit of their expertise to others. But then, why let truth get in the way of a good story.
The fact is that if, and it?s still a big if, we went ahead, the cost would be negligible and would not impinge on any other plans we have for the course. It is an extra option rather than something fundamental and was proposed in that spirit. I didn?t mention cost because, in essence, there isn?t any.
Can I wish you all enjoyable autumnal golf, and, as ever, offer myself, rather than the green-keeping staff, as the point of contact for any comments you have on the course. Or indeed for any estimates of work planned for the course.